Friday, June 28, 2013
CampaignEQ's William Belk On Ads, Algorithms, and Attribution
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
William Belk and Dirk McGregor were both early employees at Beachmint, who saw how difficult it was to track the lifetime value and marketing attribution of their advertising spend. To figure that out, they started building tools to help them sort out Beachmint's advertising efforts. They decided to take what they learned there, to create CampaignEQ (www.campaigneq.com). We caught up with William to learn more about how his experience at Beachmint led to the creation of CampaignEQ and its ad optimization tools.
What is CampaignEQ?
William Belk: CampaignEQ is a market attribution platform for advertisers. It's focused on mobile optimization and LTV tracking, and also has a pretty big focus on algorithms that try to protect advertisers from excess attribution.
What's the story behind CampaignEQ?
William Belk: My partner and I were early employees at Beachmint. At Beachmint, we were spending over a million dollars a month at times on multi-channel marketing. We were managing up to two hundred different publishers, twitter influencers, Youtube influencers and others through our affiliate and international program, so attribution and optimization was a big problem for us. We were limited to using products on the market, and we found that all of them were really designed for advertising networks and marketplaces using a traditional, affiliate model. We found lots of pain using those existing systems, and decided to build what we needed as an advertiser. We needed better optimization, a better understanding of the lifetime value of visitors, and a lot more protection from over-attribution.
What is over-attribution, and what's the problem there?
William Belk: Ad markets are really skewed against advertisers. They're very pro-publisher, and that's usually very rough on advertisers. Duplicate conversions and transactions are really common, and getting data out of their systems is really difficult. It's really important to define a unique transaction, especially when you pay per click.
How did you guys decide to shift from a consumer focused startup like Beachmint, to developing software tools?
William Belk: I was with Beachmint for almost three years, and had always been interested in data problems. As you know, the amount of data people are generating has been growing every year. It's really crazy, and the amount of data is enormous. Attributing revenues and marketing spend is a big problem for all advertisers, and a huge problem in ecommerce. As an example, if you have proper attribution and proper lifetime value, you might spend $15 more per customer to acquire them, which can change the trajectory of your entire company. That's the problem we were seeing at Beachmint. It's a problem for everyone. Companies need a way to roll up all that data, and understand their cost of customer acquisition in a detailed way. They might be running in ten different affiliate marketplaces, and they need a source of data they can trust. It made sense for us to build this software, because it can apply to so many companies in the market.
There are lots of online marketing analytics software products out there. What kinds of customers would want to use your tool?
William Belk: Our tool is specifically aimed at advertisers who have large, multi-channel programs. For example, anyone doing a lot of affiliate buying. In the affiliate space, our product is really pretty uniquely geared towards advertisers. You can use it for anything, to do marketing attribution, for CPC, for social marketing, and internal campaigns and programs. But we really specialize in campaign management for the advertiser and publisher model with affiliates. In a sense, we lean towards serving advertisers by making it really easy to understand mobile traffic activation. We definitely stand out in that respect.
What's the hardest problem you had to crack in developing your software?
William Belk: That's a good question. It's been pretty smooth so far, because we've had lots of experience with data heavy applications, and we were lucky enough to encounter lots of these problems at Beachmint. We've also been working with Amazon as a partner, and have been working with great development partners and service providers for our infrastructure and development. It's been pretty smooth.
What's the next big thing, and next step for you guys?
William Belk: Right now, we're releasing features every day. We release to production every day, and are constantly improving our feature set and adding stuff. We're making sure our algorithms get better every week. The platform we've built lets us run multiple businesses on the platform, whether that's agency work, lead generation, data sales, and beyond. Our technology allows us to do anything we want. We're going into the marketplace and seeing how it all plays out.